Towards Better Common Plant Names

I've long thought Australians come up with the most charming names for plants.  Lilly Pillies.  Billy Balls.  Prickly Toothbrushs.  Gossamer Wattle.  We'll never match that charm, so perhaps we should focus on useful.  Nowadays most people (non gardeners) want outdoor function, not charm.  Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate:  what the heck does it do? (Besides reseed everywhere.) 

Our brave new world needs names that help (okay, warn) non-gardeners about plants.  Better names could help Non-gardeners to create a better basic landscape, and to be honest, to prevent problems for the avid gardener who lives next door and doesn't want invading plant thugs.

What about "Reliable Privacy" instead of Privet, for example.  Lotsa Litter.  Move-Before-Maturity.  Rats Nest Palm.  Sidewalk Lifter.  Increase-Your-Equity.  Bloomsalot.  There-Goes-Your-Weekend.  Descriptive common names could help the non-gardener who cares about plants only for what function they can perform.  Here are some ideas.
  
Crash Barrier Plant:
 Kid Repellent  (This is the Turbo Gold version):
 
Reliable Privacy:
Neighbor-Be-Gone:
What ideas do you have for useful common plant names? 

Comments

  1. Gosh, I love this. Laughed out loud. Great sense of humor, HB. When I moved into my house many years ago there were good sized agaves planted under all the accessible windows. "Security guards", I called them.

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    1. "Security guards": good one!

      I remember someone calling pea-pebble pathways "hillbilly burglar alarms" because of the noise the stones makes when walked upon.

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  2. I love this post Gail. More descriptive names would certainly cause some plants to stay at the nursery.

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    1. Some of them shouldn't have been for sale at the nursery in the first place!

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  3. Excellent! I haven't had enough coffee yet this morning to offer any witty additions, although I will add that I wish the things my neighbor is planting too close to our shared fence came with big pictures of their full size. For example the dogwood tree (the icky white and green leaved one) that is only 2 ft away...

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    1. Coffee always helps. The dogwood is going to look funny flat on one side, but that's what neighbors are for. I've got all kinds of dreadful stuff hanging into my garden from the neighbors, sigh.

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  4. Very clever! I wonder if your "Kid Repellent" would work on raccoons? (They're back on their nightly visitation schedule here.) I might call Albizia julibrissin "Sneaky Self-seeder" - of course, that could apply to Stipa tenuissima too...

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    1. I wonder if they are coming for drinks from your fountain... grrrr! Sorry to hear that...

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  5. Hilarious! My parents planted two Paulownia tomentosa at the entry to their country driveway. Once they started growing, we always referred to them as "the plant-and-stand-back trees".

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  6. I suppose that was something of the spirit behind early names like spiderwort and toadflax but they're not nearly as entertaining as yours.

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  7. Ficus nitida, aka Oh You'll Be So Sorry.

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  8. I have a not-for-polite-company name for privet, which I'm constantly yanking from the lower front area that's (despite everything) becoming a nice woodland. It's not at all clear where the infestation started, as nobody for a good ways around appears to grow it. Could be a long way away if bird-spread, but in any case we're the source of the problem now: it's settled so thickly into the road bank that despite periodic highway dept. shaving the stubby horizontal bushes must be flowering and seeding.

    One of my winter projects is to lop them off with an electric chainsaw, then glyphosate when new growth appears in early spring. When I was young, those banks were full of "devil's shoelaces" or coralberry, Symphoricarpos orbiculatus. <--A good example of real-talk vs. marketing in common names! (Weedy as that is, it's hugely preferable, and I hope it or something like it will move back in; I'm afraid my lopping operation will reveal way too much bare orange clay...)

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